As our campus is now fully in bloom, we recently caught up with Joanna Westover, Senior Gardener, to understand what work goes into making campus look as pretty as it does and what she enjoys most about her role.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role as Senior Gardener?
Several years ago, I changed careers from accounts to my real passion horticulture. I joined Royal Holloway in 2006 as a trainee gardener.
As Senior Gardener, I am responsible for managing a team of seven gardeners, we form part of the External Spaces team in Estates and are responsible for creating an attractive campus for students and staff to enjoy.
2. We’ve recently noticed all the lovely flowers across campus. What work goes into making campus look as pretty as it does?
The campus has a lot of different types of planting and the team needs to have a very broad knowledge of horticulture to maintain it effectively.
We use the horticultural knowledge within the team to enhance the landscape across the campus. We work together to choose the right plants which fit into the landscape taking into account the location, the structure and colour of the plants/flowers, flowering season and the long-term maintenance. A variety of styles are used to provide year round colour, from shrub and perennial plantings to colourful annual flower meadows.
Students are most active on campus between September and June and we try to make sure the campus looks good during this time, not just during the summer.
3. What do you enjoy most about your role?
The variety, there is always plenty to do and lots of opportunities to shape the landscape at Royal Holloway. It’s great to be able to take an area which needs attention and turn it into an attractive area and see the before and after effect.
Having the opportunity to work on some of the larger projects from the start e.g. Founder's Square and George Eliot hall and give input into the landscaping and planting is fulfilling.
I also enjoy taking people on tours of the grounds and listening to their thoughts about the grounds and the areas which they enjoy.
4. What’s your favourite flower and why?
I’m a big fan of purple and blue flowers, particularly Salvias. Other favourites of mine are Cosmos and Echinacea.
5. Outside of work do you have any hobbies or interests?
Last year, I took up running and am really enjoying it – more than I thought! I also really enjoy walking and getting out in the great outdoors.
6. What’s your favourite term at Royal Holloway and why?
It would have to be spring for me, all the lovely new green growth on the trees across campus and the expectation of what is to come through the year.
7. You may have seen our latest recruitment campaign, ‘Find your why’. We are interested to find out what Royal Holloway has helped you to discover about yourself…
Having the opportunity to enhance people’s environment, the team get some really great comments about the grounds and this makes it all worthwhile.